Pastry Chef Hosts Baking Workshops in Gray County

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For Lauren Hambleton, baking is about connecting with people through food, which is why she founded Red Hen Artisanale.

For Lauren Hambleton, baking is about connecting with people through food, which is why she founded Red Hen Artisanale.

Located in the heart of Gray County, Red Hen Artisanale offers hands-on baking workshops and a variety of culinary experiences for people of all interest and skill levels. From workshops to private dinners, team building activities and markets, Hambleton’s mission is to bring people together in communities and workplaces by sharing his passion for teaching and love of all things relates to sourdough.

“I like the aspect of bringing people together and doing something with your hands, maybe going outside of what you’re used to doing…” Hambleton said. “Overall, I’m just having a good time and giving myself a day to have fun.”

Hambleton graduated from Humber College’s culinary skills program, but it wasn’t until after graduation that she realized her true passion was baking. She spent the next few years traveling through Western Europe, gaining work experience while living for varying lengths of time in Amsterdam, Rome and various cities in the UK.

Upon her return, she enrolled in a bread program at the San Francisco Baking Institute. This is where her love for baking bread really started to grow.

“With baking, I like the idea that everything is organized and calculated,” she said.

She became a pastry chef at Peller Estates, where she spent three years developing a bread and baking program that focused on baking everything in-house and sourcing ingredients locally as often as possible. She also began teaching bakery and pastry part-time at Humber College.

“I’ve started teaching again where I originally was, which is pretty cool,” she said.

In the fall of 2017, Hambleton traveled to North Carolina to spend a few weeks learning from world-renowned sourdough enthusiast Tara Jensen and participating in her wood-fire baking workshops surrounded by mountains.

“It was what I always wanted to do, I just didn’t know it existed,” Hambleton said. “Teaching small workshops and bringing people in in a nice, relaxing setting.”

When she got home, she got to work formulating her own workshops, and her flagship Sourdough + Pie experience was born.

The one-day workshop guides participants through a hands-on baking experience where they can mix and shape their own loaves of sourdough bread and create seasonal pie with a sourdough pie crust. At the end of the workshop, each baker leaves with a detailed recipe booklet, a sourdough entrée plus instructions for keeping it alive, two loaves of sourdough bread and a ready-to-bake seasonal pie.

Over the past five years, his workshops have all taken place in scenic locations across Southern Ontario, from one-room schools in rural Brant County to bright little studios along the Grand River in Elora.

In November 2021, Hambleton moved to Gray County and began building his own studio from the ground up.

In January, his newly built private cooking studio, located along the Saugeen River, officially opened and has since welcomed attendees for a variety of cooking experiences.

Hambleton now hosts several different workshops, both virtual and in-person, ranging from handmade whole-grain pasta cooking classes to bagel workshops and baking experiences for kids.

Her virtual workshops have reached people as far away as Alberta, Texas and even Germany, but she still prefers to run in-person workshops where she can bring people together. In the future, she hopes to hold more multi-day workshops so bakers can get to know each other better and she can showcase all that Gray County has to offer.

“I could do a whole itinerary for people to come and stay at a really cute place, attend a workshop, go out for dinner, and have a really good wine tasting,” she said. “There’s so much going on here.”

What she loves most about baking is that she is stereotypical in nature.

“I love the assembly process and the flavor combinations, from savory to sweet. It’s calculated and organized,” she says.

Hambleton said there are so many different tips and tricks for success, as long as they are followed, there’s no reason anyone can’t be successful with sourdough. She loves getting photos and feedback from past participants and says people of all experience levels attend her workshops, from those who have only baked once in their life to avid bakers looking learn a new skill or improve their consistency.

“It’s not necessarily simple, but it’s easy,” she laughed.

Hambleton also sells sourdough starter kits and operates a monthly bread club, where members receive fresh sourdough bread every Friday throughout the month.

For more information about Red Hen Artisanale or to register for a workshop, visit it online.

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